| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 672, 1 August 2016
Welcome to this year's 31st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu distribution, has spent the past few years promoting the ideas of Ubuntu on mobile devices and user interfaces which can work across multiple platforms. Last year we saw the first Ubuntu mobile phones launch in Europe and Ubuntu-powered phones and tablets are now appearing in global markets. This week we begin with a review of the Meizu Pro 5, a smart phone which uses Ubuntu as its operating system. Read on to find out how the Ubuntu phone performs and how it compares to the Android platform. This week we tackle the myth that Linux requires a lot of memory and explore where the idea comes from. In our News section we discuss the Solus distribution embracing a new rolling release model and a new GUI approach to upgrading Fedora. Plus we share an interview with Jane Silber and remind our readers Ubuntu 15.10 has reached the end of its supported life. We also discuss FreeBSD's Quarterly Report. We then share the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of the releases of the past week. In our Opinion Poll we talk about gaming on Linux. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (43MB) and MP3 (60MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu Phone - The Meizu Pro 5
In many ways, for me, smart phones are the realization of a childhood fantasy: computers small enough to fit in a pocket and powerful enough to perform common computing tasks. There is a certain amount of wonder I feel when I look up trivia, get directions or play chess on a device that can sit in my pocket and only needs to be recharged once every day or two. However, while I greatly admire the technology that goes into a smart phone, the experience often suffers from dozens of small issues.
Over the years I have tried most of the major smart phone platforms. While each had their strengths, they also introduced frustrations which sent me on to another platform. Early Blackberry phones I found bulky and difficult to navigate. While I found more modern Blackberries much more comfortable and I enjoyed their physical keyboards, the Blackberry company seems to be killing off their classic phones in favour of touch screens and giant square devices that won't fit in my pocket. I briefly tried a few generations of the iPhone, but never felt comfortable with the interface (iOS seems to interpret my touch gestures as vague suggestions) and I found it difficult to find ways to perform common tasks. The iPhone also feels uncomfortably locked into the Apple ecosystem, making it a poor fit for me. Android is the platform I have used the longest. My first Android regularly crashed and lost its wi-fi connection. My most recent Android is much more stable, but still loses its network connection and is bundled with software I cannot remove which insists on nagging me on a regular basis. I very briefly tried a Windows phone and while I found the interface sometimes had the familiar feel of a desktop computer, the illusion of familiarity did not hold up. The Windows phone felt like a Barbie doll - a recognizable imitation of a familiar concept, but warped and stiff, ultimately something I'd be embarrassed being seen with on a date.
For the past few years I, like many other Linux enthusiasts, have been looking forward to a more pure mobile GNU/Linux experience. Ubuntu phones started appearing in Europe last year, but the models from Bq appear to work on frequencies not compatible with (or not ideal for) North American mobile networks. Meizu has launched the Meizu Pro 5 which is available in Android and Ubuntu flavours. The Meizu phone appears to offer complete compatibly with mobile networks in Canada and the United States of America and I was eager to try it. Upon request, Canonical was kind enough to send me a Pro 5 model to explore and what follows are my impressions of the device.
The Meizu Pro 5 arrived in a simple, black box with "PRO 5" written on the cover. The box contained the phone itself, a power-to-USB adapter and a USB-C cable. There was also a small piece of paper with Chinese characters on it which I believe was the warranty. There was no instruction manual. The Pro 5 is 156.7mm x 78mm x 7.5mm in size, making it almost an inch (2.5cm) taller than my existing Android Moto G device, and nearly half an inch (1cm) wider. The Pro 5 is a few millimetres thinner than my Moto G and a touch lighter, weighing in at 168 grams. This makes the Pro 5 quite a bit longer and not always as easy to slide into a pocket, but it feels nicer in my hand.
The Pro 5 has two cameras, a 20 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front camera. A USB plug is located at the bottom and a headphone jack can be found at the top of the device. The power and volume rocker are placed on the right with a SIM/microSD card tray on the left. The tray can hold two cards, enabling us to insert two SIM cards or a SIM and a microSD card for additional storage. The positioning of the volume and power buttons are reversed on the Pro 5 compared to my Android phone, placing the power button closer to the bottom of the device.
The Pro 5 runs the mobile edition of Ubuntu 15.04 and offers 3GB of physical RAM. About 1GB of memory is required to run the phone with its default scopes and settings, leaving us about 2GB of space for applications and other features. The device offers approximately 30GB of internal storage with 26GB of the space still free. The device retails for $369.99 (USD).
The Pro 5 boots in about ten seconds, briefly showing us the familiar Ubuntu loading screen fans of the Ubuntu Desktop edition will recognize. The first time we start the device, we are asked to select our preferred language from a list. We are then given the option of connecting to nearby wireless networks. The device next asks if we would like to enable the GPS. (We can enable/disable the GPS feature later through the phone's settings panel.) We are then asked to select our time zone from a list and, optionally, we can enter our name. The last two screens in the initial set up process give us the chance to lock the phone with a passcode and to optionally send crash reports to the developers. With these steps completed we are brought to a screen called the Today scope.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- The Today scope, Ubuntu's home screen
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I will come back to the concept of scopes, which are similar to desktop widgets, in a moment, but first I want to go over navigating the Ubuntu mobile operating system. Ubuntu tends to avoid using buttons or things we tap. Instead, wherever possible Ubuntu uses swiping gestures to navigate and control the interface. Short swipes to the left or right cycle us through open scopes. A swipe from left-to-right brings up the launch bar, which looks and acts much like the Unity launch bar in the Desktop edition of Ubuntu. A gesture from the bottom of the screen brings up any options the current application or scope supports. A swipe from the top of the screen downward brings up the global settings and notification area. At the bottom of the device there is a physical home button and pressing this button brings up the application launch bar on the left side of the screen. A long swiping gesture from right-to-left shows us all the open applications windows. When on the window overview screen, pushing an application window up closes the program. Moving our finger left or right cycles through the open windows. Tapping an open window gives it focus.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- Switching between app windows
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All about scopes
I have used the term scope a few times now and I feel it is a concept worth exploring. From a technical perspective, a scope acts a lot like a desktop widget, a plasmoid (for KDE users) or an Android widget. A scope is basically a small program which sits in the background and provides quick access to information. A scope (or widget) might show us the local weather forecast, a Twitter feed or our CPU's usage statistics. On most desktops, and on Android devices, a widget is usually fairly small, allowing us to fit many on the screen. With Ubuntu's mobile operating system, a scope takes up the entire screen, it is a full screen widget. On Android the user has five home screens where we can place multiple widgets and icons. Ubuntu can have a virtually limitless number of scopes, each one taking up a full page.
From a practical point of view, Ubuntu's scopes give the user quick access to weather forecasts, music and calendar information. Scopes can also provide us with news, a way to launch applications and quick access to our phone's photos.
The heart of the Ubuntu experience is the Today scope which acts as the device's home page. The Today scope, by default, shows us the current date, local weather, a summary of recent calls & messages and news from various sources around the world. The Today scope can be customized by pulling up the options tray from the bottom of the screen and can show as much or as little information as we like. When I first started using the phone I noticed the Today scope showed temperatures in the weather forecast in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. This can be adjusted by changing our selected language in the device's settings panel and restarting the phone.
Ubuntu offers us many other scopes. By default there are scopes for viewing photos, finding music, browsing (and launching) installed applications and finding videos. We can add new scopes, remove existing ones and change the order in which scopes are shown through the options tray at the bottom of the scope screen.
What about apps?
While Ubuntu does place focus on its scopes, the platform supports and includes more traditional phone applications (or apps). Applications can be launched from the Apps scope or from the launch bar. Open applications can be pinned to the launch bar for future quick access by holding the application's icon and selecting the Pin option in the menu that appears. The operating system gives us access to the Ubuntu Store where we can find over 1,000 additional apps and scopes. We do require a user account through Ubuntu One to install or update apps. Creating an account is free and can be done through the phone.
I found Ubuntu Store to be easy to navigate. The interface is similar to Google's Play store or the GNOME Software package manager. Tapping on an application's icon brings up a full screen description which includes screen shots, a link to the software's web page, licensing information and the application's size. Programs can be installed or removed with the tap of a button. Installed items can be launched from their description page.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- Finding new applications in the Ubuntu Store
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One aspect of Ubuntu I greatly appreciated was that I could remove unwanted applications, including the ones bundled with the device. On most builds of other operating systems there are programs baked into the operating system which cannot be removed and which may nag the user. Ubuntu allows us to get rid of programs we do not want.
Another feature of Ubuntu I like is the mobile operating system installs applications without giving them permission to access anything by default. When an app wants to access our contacts, Google account or camera the app must ask us for permission. This gives Ubuntu a fairly fine-grained security model that denies by default. We can revoke permissions we have already granted by visiting the Security & Privacy screen in the settings panel.
Migrating from Android to Ubuntu
For me, one of the big questions going into this review was how difficult it would be to transition from one mobile operating system to another, specifically Android to Ubuntu. I was uncertain if my contacts, calendar appointments and photos could be transferred between the two devices. I wondered if I could find similar applications and settings when switching to the new device.
As it happened, the migration was fairly straight forward. There are a few ways to copy contacts into the Ubuntu phone. People who have a Google account can simply sync their address book to Google and then link the Google account to their Ubuntu device. This can be done through the Users module in the Ubuntu settings panel. Alternatively, we can export contacts from the Android device, copy the archive to a desktop computer and then over to the Ubuntu phone. The contacts file can then be imported through Ubuntu's Contacts application. Copying the calendar is similarly straight forward for anyone with a Google account as the Ubuntu calendar can sync with Google's on-line calendar.
I like that Ubuntu provides permission control over on-line accounts. Not just any application can access a Google account that has been linked to the phone. Each application must be explicitly granted permission to access Google's address book, YouTube information and other synced items.
For the most part, settings and features on the Ubuntu device had direct parallels to settings and features on my Android device. One of the few changes I had to get used to is Android has three volume controls. One handles the ringer and messages, another adjusts alarms and a third is for media. At first it seemed as though Ubuntu had just one master volume control. However, I soon found the volume control in Ubuntu's settings panel adjusts the ringer volume and audio/media output. The alarm volume is handled separately by the Clock application and its audio volume is adjusted independently from other applications.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- The settings panel
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Calling and texting
Making and receiving phone calls works about the same on the Ubuntu phone as any other modern smart phone. The calling application can be accessed from the app launcher. We can initiate calls by dialing a number on a touchpad or by accessing the address book and tapping a phone icon next to the contact name. Incoming calls pause any other task and we can swipe left to ignore the call or right to accept. A small button near the bottom of the screen disconnects a call in progress. There are other buttons for switching on speaker phone and muting a call. The audio quality of calls was good. With Android phones I can usually clearly hear a caller from several feet away when the volume is at 40%. The Meizu Pro 5 audio levels were lower and I could hear callers from about a foot away with 60% volume. I was pleased to find the Ubuntu touchpad worked flawlessly when navigating automated answering services, while all the Android phones I have used tend to shut off the display while I am punching in a number.
Texting works on Ubuntu about the same as on other smart phones, but the way we handle past messages is a little different. Once a message has been sent, we can swipe it to the left to get meta information on the message or to copy its contents to the clipboard. Swiping to the right gives us the option of deleting the old message. Images, videos and contacts can be attached to texts, either from within the messaging app itself or by visiting the gallery or address book and tapping the share button.
One feature I grew to enjoy was the way Ubuntu offers us a short-cut for replying to text messages. When a new text comes in, the phone notifies the user and a green envelope appears in the notification tray at the top of the screen. We can pull down the notification area and read the message. We can also write a reply in a text box next to the message and send it from within the notification tray. This means we do not need to switch from our current task to the messaging app and back again. We can pop down the tray, write a quick reply and push the tray back up, returning to the task at hand.
Battery and performance
The Pro 5 offered pretty good battery performance. When the phone was in semi-active use (checking messages, watching videos, sending tweets and listening to music), the battery lost around 5% of its charge per hour. While left to sleep during the night, the battery drained 10% in ten hours (1% per hour). When recharging through a USB cable attached to my computer, the Pro 5 gained 20% of its battery charge each hour and would presumably recover from a completely drained battery in five hours.
The Pro 5 is a fast device and the interface was quite snappy. Switching between apps and scopes happens very quickly, new programs are quick to load and browsing the web was a fairly pleasant experience on the Pro 5. It did not seem to matter how many applications I loaded on the device, the interface was always responsive.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- The phone's default web browser
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The Pro 5 has two cameras, a high quality rear-facing lens takes 20 megapixel images while the front-facing camera takes 5 megapixel photographs. The picture quality was good, at least to my non-photographer eyes. The camera performed passably well in both lit and dim environments. What stood out about taking pictures was the application though. The Ubuntu camera app, like all Ubuntu apps, has an options tray at the bottom of the screen. These options are clearly labelled and easy to toggle. I found the experience pleasantly straight forward compared to Android's camera application, which involves turning dials and swiping a tray of vague icons in from the side. With Ubuntu the experience was more akin to using a simple image editor than a mock-up of a classic analogue camera and I liked that.
A common problem which plagues a lot of people on both Android and iOS is dealing with software updates, particularly to the base operating system. Friends who use iPhones often tell me horror stories about upgrading their phones through iTunes while Android users tend to suffer from a lack of upgrades as most phone providers push out updates (or not) independently of Google. It appears as though Ubuntu phones get their software updates directly from Canonical and the Ubuntu Store. Going into the phone's settings panel we can find a configuration module called Updates. Tapping the Updates button will check for software upgrades and we can choose whether to have updates installed manually or automatically. During my time with the Pro 5 there was one upgrade made available, 220MB in size. The update installed without any problems.
The Pro 5 ships with a web browser. The browser doesn't display any branding and it is a light, effective browser. There are no plugins or fancy features, just a straight forward browser with bookmarks. We can set the browser to use a variety of search engines, including Google (the default), Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo and a few others. Alternative web browsers can be found in the Ubuntu Store.
For people like me who want to use a command line, there is a Terminal application in the Ubuntu Store. The phone's terminal works about the same as a virtual terminal on Ubuntu Desktop. The usual command line tools are available, with the exception of manual pages. To perform actions as the device's administrator we can use the sudo command. Ubuntu's phone uses the same directory structure as the Ubuntu Desktop and Server editions. The user has a home directory located at /home/phablet. In the home directory we find a series of folders: Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. When an external storage card is attached to the phone, files saved to the card can be accessed under the /media directory.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- Accessing memory usage information from the terminal
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Ubuntu's mobile operating system can play media files, including mp3 audio files, by default. There is a built in media player for music and we can gain access to other media sources, such as YouTube, through scopes and web apps.
The Pro 5 has a light on the face of the device which flashes when there are notifications waiting, such as calendar events and new text messages. Notifications usually appear in small bubbles at the top of the display and are often accompanied by a brief sound. We can disable notifications from any app through the settings panel using the Notifications module. So far as I could tell, notifications from applications can only be toggled on/off for each app, I could not find a way to visually display new notices while also muting them.
I was able to pair my Ubuntu phone with other devices, such as an Android phone, over Bluetooth. However, I was unable to send or receive photos or contacts over the Bluetooth connection. If I wanted to send contacts to an Android phone from Ubuntu, I had to use Google's sync service. I could import contact archives from Android into Ubuntu, but I could not find a way to export contacts from the Ubuntu device into an archive to send back to the Android phone.
Placing a new microSD card in the phone's tray would bring up a notification letting the user know the card had been detected. A card with no suitable file system would cause Ubuntu to offer to format the card using the VFAT file system. When a storage card was inserted, applications (like the camera app) would offer to save files to the card or our home directory. We can toggle where items such as photos are saved, switching back and forth between the removable card and internal storage. When a storage card was in the phone, its extra space was not included in the phone's disk usage statistics. The phone always looked to its internal storage when calculating how much space was used and how much was still free. When accessing the command line we can see how much storage is available to us on the removable card by using the df command.
I had some trouble connecting to the Ubuntu device's internal storage from my computer at first. When the phone was plugged in via USB, it was not mounted as a storage device and the first two file managers I tried (Lumina and Dolphin) could not detect the phone. The Nautilus file manager was able to detect and access the phone's storage, giving me access to both the files stored internally and the files on the microSD card. Alternatively, we can install a file transfer app on the phone and send files over FTP and SFTP connections.
One of the few features I missed when I switched over to Ubuntu was the KDE Connect application. The KDE Connect software enables an Android phone to talk with a Linux desktop computer. Through it we can share a clipboard, transfer files over wi-fi and see phone notifications on the desktop. As far as I can tell there is no exact replacement for Ubuntu phones yet, though the Caxton app comes pretty close.
When both mobile and wi-fi network connections were enabled, the Ubuntu phone would prefer the wi-fi network, as expected. When I went out of range of the wi-fi network, the phone would automatically switch over to using my mobile data plan, again as expected. However, when I went back into range of the wi-fi network, the phone would continue to use the mobile data plan until mobile data was turned off. This is a potentially serious bug as many mobile data plans are expensive and it is not immediately apparent the phone is using mobile data since it reports a wi-fi connection is available.
The Ubuntu device provides a number of ways to lock the phone. The device can use a passcode, password or fingerprint to unlock the phone. At the time of writing I have only used the passcode method and can confirm it works.
One feature of the Ubuntu phone that took me a while to notice was the lack of advertisements. Over the past year and a half I have become accustomed to the idea that I get to run free applications on my phone in exchange for being shown semi-frequent ads. This tended not to bother me most of the time, except when Android apps would suddenly show me full screen videos at high volume. After two days of using Ubuntu I realized I had not see any advertisements, there had been no interruptions while playing games, no banners at the bottom of my text editor, no nagging notifications ironically telling me how I could remove distractions from my life. This lack of distractions gives Ubuntu an overall more smooth, less jarring user experience.
Sometimes the phone's display would turn on without apparent reason and remain on, despite attempts to turn it off. This happened about once every two or three days. This is a common issue across phone types, but can usually be traced back to a faulty plug, magnetic interference or vibrations. None of these elements were present when the Ubuntu phone turned on its display. The display would usually remain on for about twenty minutes to an hour, then turn off again. The issue is minor as the only side effect is slightly faster battery drain, but I was unable to locate a cause. My best guess is the phone is long and thin, possibly subject to warping when handled, which could trigger the physical home button to activate.
Ubuntu Phone 15.04 -- Browsing installed programs from the Apps scope
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Prior to receiving the Ubuntu phone, I looked up a handful of reviews (six in total) and demonstration videos to see what other people thought of the Meizu Pro 5. All the reviews I read focused on four things: camera quality, interface performance, number of applications and battery life. None talked about how well the phone worked as a phone and I started to wonder if any of the reviewers had placed a call or used their device for texting. Few talked about how scopes compare to applications. This is one of the reasons I wanted to test the Ubuntu-powered phone for myself. I mostly use my phone for communication, and occasionally looking up information in a web browser. I'm not a heavy app user*; I have a desktop computer for applications and a phone for communications. Each Android phone I have used for calls, especially to businesses, has offered an unpleasant experience because the number pad rarely works properly. This makes it hard to navigate computer-run answering services. Half the time my Android devices have been unable to hang-up properly. My biggest issue with Android is it feels like an app platform rather than a communications tool. If Ubuntu could solve that problem, I would be willing to overlook a lot of other issues.
As it turned out, Ubuntu running on the Pro 5 offered me a pleasant phone and communications experience. Using the phone and the touchpad to navigate automated services worked very well. Texting worked well too and I found I liked typing on the Ubuntu keyboard a little more than the Android keyboard. After two days with Ubuntu I was making fewer typos than I did after 18 months with the Android on-screen keyboard. I was a little concerned at first with the size of the Pro 5, it is taller than any phone I have owned in the past. However, the Pro 5 is also lighter. This made it a squeeze to get it into my pocket, but pleasant to hold in my hand.
It took me a while to get used to the difference between using scopes and running applications. Scopes are a slightly unusual concept in the smart phone market, but I grew to appreciate the idea. What eventually gave me the "a-ha" moment when it came to scopes was when I realized scopes are for looking at information and apps for doing things. Scopes are always on, always waiting in the background to provide us with small bits of data. Applications are for performing tasks. A scope will tell me what is on my calendar for the day, an application will create new appointments. A scope will tell me who called me recently while an app will place a new call.
Speaking of apps, I would like to address two common observations reviewers tend to raise about the Ubuntu mobile operating system. The first is that Ubuntu phones do not have access to many apps; the Ubuntu Store is a lot smaller than the Android and iOS market places. This is valid, but there are three key things to keep in mind when looking at the situation. It is true Ubuntu's phone has a lot fewer applications. While I do not miss the hundreds of flashlight apps and the dozen knock-offs of Flappy Birds, I do appreciate choice and I do hope Ubuntu is able to attract more developers to its app store. However, a second component of the fewer apps concern is, in my opinion, a result of Ubuntu offering different apps.
When users migrate from Windows to desktop Linux they often notice Linux does not run Microsoft Office, Photoshop or Need For Speed and they conclude Linux doesn't run many applications. However, if they stick around they soon find Linux runs LibreOffice, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and SuperTuxKart. These programs may or may not suit their needs, but my point is there are often workable alternatives to familiar applications. I think the same concept applies, to an extent, on Ubuntu's phone platform. The Ubuntu Store does not have Firefox, VLC or Plants vs Zombies. Ubuntu does have a web browser, music player and Machines vs Machines though. Ubuntu could use some more applications, especially recognized brands like Firefox, but I was able to find working alternatives to almost every Android app I use.
A third point I would like to raise is I have noticed the Ubuntu phone takes a user-oriented or, perhaps more accurately, an information-oriented approach while Android and iOS take an application-focused approach. People who use Android or iOS are probably familiar with the phrase, "There's an app for that." When I wake up in the morning and look at my Android phone I go through a series of apps. I want to reply to texts, so I go to the messaging app. When I want to check my schedule for the day, I open the calendar app. If I want to see what the weather will be for the next two days, I open another app. With Ubuntu the phone gathers the information I want and presents it to me in one location. In the morning I check my Ubuntu phone and the Today scope (the default screen) shows my calendar appointments for the day, a weather forecast and text messages all on one page. I can reply to messages by tapping the text bubble and replying to it right in the notification area. If I want to look at my Twitter feed, it's a swipe to the left, I don't need to open another application. My point is, Android and iOS users need lots of applications to perform tasks while Ubuntu does its best to bring the information we want to us in one place. Ubuntu may not have as many apps, but it tends not to require them as much either.
One last thought I would like to share is several reviewers before me have suggested Ubuntu phones are really only suitable for technology enthusiasts and Linux fans. The platform is too young, too geek-oriented they suggest. I wanted to put this idea to the test and so I showed the Pro 5 to a few other people. One who I would qualify as having an intermediate comfort with technology (comfortable using desktop Linux, but doesn't touch a command line) and others who I would qualify as having a low level of technical knowledge. The Ubuntu phone received only positive comments with scopes being praised as a "cool" concept. People adjusted to the swiping gestures quickly, generally faster than I had. The ability to reply to a text message from within the notification area was welcomed with enthusiasm. One user quickly asked where they could sign up to get a similar device. Granted, these people are not heavy app users, they primarily want to text, check Facebook and place calls. But they each took to the device and its swipe style of navigation quickly.
Ubuntu's mobile operating system does indeed offer features Linux enthusiasts will like such as regular software updates, easy to manage application permissions and a powerful command line. However, the phone's appeal to non-Linux users should not be overlooked. Ubuntu is ad-free, the devices are generally well priced for the hardware, the interface is pleasantly responsive and scopes are an idea which seems to appeal to a range of people. I am quite pleased with the device and I plan to make my next mobile device one that is powered by Ubuntu.
* * * * *
I started wondering, while reading other reviews, just how many of the thousands of Android apps I actually use on my phone and, of those, how many are specific brand names like Spotify or Skype? As it turns out, I am not all that wedded to any one specific application which is probably why I have generally been able to switch platforms in the past with a minimal amount of effort. The list of apps I use on my Android phone is as follows: A phone app for making/receiving calls; a SMS texting app; a web browser; an address book; a calendar; a call filtering app for blocking telemarketers; an OpenSSH client; a camera app; Google Maps; Twitter; KDE Connect; and YouTube. The rest are casual, time wasting games or items bundled with the phone I'd rather remove. Twelve apps in total, with four being specific brands or tied to a particular service. While using Ubuntu I was able to find suitable replacements for all except KDE Connect and the call blocking application. Had I been willing to download applications from third-parties, the F-Call program probably would have solved my call filtering needs.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Solus embraces a rolling release model, upgrading Fedora from the desktop, an interview with Jane Silber, Ubuntu 15.10 reaches its end of life and FreeBSD's Quarterly Report
The Solus project is moving away from the concept of fixed point releases and is embracing a rolling release model. This means the upcoming scheduled releases will be dropped in favour of periodic snapshots. "In the not so distant past, Solus followed a static point release model. Our most current release at this time is 1.2, with a 1.2.1 planned to drop in the near future. However, we also recently announced our move to a rolling release model. As such, these two schools of thought are in contradiction of one another. Going forward, the old release schedule is officially, entirely dropped, and the branching pattern of a point-release-system is also shed." The project's announcement reports the distribution is in the process of shifting to using version 6 of the GNU Compiler Collection and will soon release version 10.2.7 of the Budgie desktop.
* * * * *
One of the exciting new features to be introduced with Fedora 24 was the ability to upgrade previous versions of the distribution using the graphical front-end package manager. This change allows people running Fedora 23 to upgrade to the latest Fedora release from the comfort of their desktop environment. A ZDNet article walks through the new upgrade process step-by-step: "There is no doubt that some users will find this is easier than the traditional Fedora CLI upgrade process, which is done via the CLI using the DNF utility. That process is described in detail in the Fedora Magazine article Upgrading Fedora 23 Workstation to Fedora 24. However, if you are an experienced Linux user, and you are not reluctant to use CLI utilities, the upgrade using DNF is not difficult, it is well documented in the Fedora Magazine article, and it was available at the time of the Fedora 24 release, about a month sooner than this GUI upgrade process."
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Tom's Hardware has shared an interview with Jane Silber, the CEO of Canonical. Silber has been with Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, almost from the beginning. In the interview, she talks about the company's early days, some of the technologies Canonical is working on, AI and women in technology. She also comments on the growing acceptance of open source: "When I look back at where we started with Ubuntu as a desktop operating system (and then we added in the server around 2006), versus the type of opportunities and issues that we're facing today around the cloud and connected devices, and what we think of as the re-emergence of a converged, personal computing experience, it's really a very different world. Even in terms of the mindset around the technology and open source in general has shifted dramatically around this time period. I remember when we started, we would start many customer meetings explaining what open source was and talking about licenses, and allaying fears of customers around open source--and none of that happens anymore. There is such broad acceptance that open source is not just the credible way, but a better way of writing and procuring software." The full interview has all the details.
Adam Conrad has posted a notice reminding people running Ubuntu 15.10 (code name "Wily Werewolf") that this version of the distribution has reached its end of life. "This is a follow-up to the End of Life warning sent earlier this month to confirm that as of today (July 28, 2016), Ubuntu 15.10 is no longer supported. No more package updates will be accepted to 15.10, and it will be archived to old-releases.ubuntu.com in the coming weeks. The original End of Life warning follows, with upgrade instructions: Ubuntu announced its 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) release almost 9 months ago, on October 22, 2015. As a non-LTS release, 15.10 has a 9-month month support cycle and, as such, the support period is now nearing its end and Ubuntu 15.10 will reach end of life on Thursday, July
28th. At that time, Ubuntu Security Notices will no longer include information or updated packages for Ubuntu 15.10." Upgrade instructions are available for people who wish to upgrade from Ubuntu 15.10 to 16.04.
* * * * *
The FreeBSD developers have been hard at work these past three months and the project's Quarterly Report highlights their progress. "This quarter brings several exciting improvements over previous models. We have enhancements from different teams, new features like robust mutexes and support for full disk encryption with GELI. You'll find expanded graphics support, both at the chipset and window manager levels, and ongoing development in many pending features." Some significant work has been done toward making reproducible builds possible on FreeBSD, GitLab has been ported to FreeBSD and more ports are now retrievable over IPv6 connections. The report has a comprehensive list of changes.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Myths and Misunderstandings (by Jesse Smith)
The massive memory myth
One common complaint new Linux users tend to have is that Linux uses a lot more of their computer's memory than other operating systems. Newcomers tend to ask why Linux requires more RAM than their previous operating system and why memory usage balloons so quickly after they sign into their desktop session. Linux has a reputation of working on older computers and this leads people to wonder how that can be true when a massive amount of their RAM is being used.
What new Linux users are experiencing is usually not a difference in how their computer's RAM is being used, but how that usage is being reported to them. Most modern operating systems use memory in similar ways, but Windows, Linux and the BSDs will report on how memory is being used quite differently.
When we open a document or launch an application that data is loaded from our computer's disk into memory. While the application or file is open, the data is considered to be in active use. When we close the document or application, the operating system will usually keep the data in memory for quick access later. Reading information stored in RAM is a lot faster than re-loading the same information from the hard disk, and so it makes our computer faster if information is kept in RAM. Information that is still in RAM, but not being actively used, is considered to be cached or inactive data.
Cached data will usually be stored in RAM until the operating system needs to use that space for something else, like a new image or document we are trying to open. At that point, the cached data is over-written by the new file we are accessing. This new data will also stick around in RAM until the space is needed by yet another program or document.
Modern operating systems view any unused RAM as being a wasted resource. Ideally, as much information should be copied into RAM as possible for quick access. The cached data is not preventing us from loading new information into memory as the cached information will simply be replaced as needed.
While most operating systems work this way, different operating systems report their memory usage differently. Linux, for example, will usually report how much RAM is being used in total, combining both the actively used memory and cache. When we run a process monitor such as top we usually see the combined active and cached memory statistics. This makes Linux's memory usage look unusually high. Some tools, like the free command, will show both combined memory usage and break down active and cached data into separate statistics.
The BSDs feature utilities which generally break memory usage down further. When running the top command on FreeBSD, for example, we see actively used memory, inactive memory, cached memory, "wired" memory which is usually data reserved by the kernel and drivers, and free memory which is not being used for anything.
Memory monitoring tools on other operating systems may simplify things a bit by focusing on the amount of memory actively in use, which is relatively small. This makes sense as actively used memory is usually the statistic we see as being the most important. But in focusing on active memory, memory which is being used and cannot be overwritten, we gloss over the other data being held in RAM for future use. Linux does not hide cached data in its statistics, making the operating system appear more memory hungry than it really is.
In short, we need to focus more on actively used memory and remember to ignored cached data as the cache is not being actively used and may be overwritten as needed. Having a lot of cached data in RAM is a good thing as it allows files and applications to be loaded more quickly.
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Additional Myth and Misunderstandings articles can be found in our archive.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 220
- Total data uploaded: 41.0TB
|Released Last Week
Chris Buechler has announced the release of pfSense 2.3.2, a new stable version in the 2.3 branch of the project's FreeBSD-based operating system for firewalls and routers: "We are happy to announce the release of pfSense software version 2.3.2. This is a maintenance release in the 2.3.x series, bringing a number of bug fixes. It includes fixes for 60 bugs, 8 features and 2 to-do items completed. As always, you can upgrade from any prior version directly to 2.3.2. While nearly all of the common regressions between 2.2.6 and 2.3-RELEASE have been fixed in subsequent releases, the following still exist: IPsec IPComp does not work and is disabled by default, however in 2.3.1 it is automatically not enabled to avoid encountering this problem; IGMP Proxy does not work with VLAN interfaces and possibly other edge cases, this is a little-used component; those using IPsec and OpenBGPD may have non-functional IPsec unless OpenBGPD is removed." Here is the full release announcement, with further information available on the features and changes page.
Jos Schellevis has announced the release of OPNsense 16.7, a FreeBSD-based specialist operating system designed for firewalls and routers: "It is time for the next major iteration in open-source security. After 6 months and 20 minor releases we hereby declare the general availability of OPNsense 16.7, nick-named 'Dancing Dolphin'. The highlights of this major release include: Suricata 3.1.1 with Intel Hyperscan support; NetFlow-based reporting and export; traffic shaping using CoDel / FQ-CoDel; two-factor authentication based on RFC 6238 (TOTP); HTTPS and ICAP support in the proxy server; FreeBSD 10.3 with full integration of HardenedBSD ASLR; UEFI boot and installation modes; substantial updates to our language packs: Japanese, Russian, German, French, Chinese. Attention: an incompatibility in Chrome may prevent the firmware update from running. Try a different browser to upgrade to 16.7 where a workaround has been added to avoid the problem in the future." Read the complete release announcement which includes a list of all the recent changes.
OPNsense 16.7 -- Getting status information from the dashboard
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André Fabian Silva Delgado has announced the release of a new version of Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, a distribution built from Arch Linux, but repackaged to include "libre" software only. The new release, version 2016.07.27, comes in three variants - "Main" (CLI-only installation medium), "MATE desktop" (a live DVD featuring the MATE desktop environment) and "TalkingParabola" (installation CD adapted for visually impaired users). From the release announcement: "New install medium 2016.07.27. ChangeLog: fixed read and write permissions in $HOME folder; added instant messaging and video calling applications mate-extra, linphone, qtox; added octopi-cachecleaner, octopi-notifier and octopi-repoeditor since it is needed for octopi that is our powerful Pacman frontend by default; added lightdm as default display manager; added sudo by default to allow members of group wheel to execute any command...."
Endian Firewall 3.2.1
Endian has announced the release of Endian Firewall 3.2.1, the first stable build in the 3.2 series of the project's CentOS-based Linux distribution designed for firewall and routers. Besides improvements in hardware support and, the new release also brings a number of security updates: "The Endian team is proud to announce the Endian Firewall Community 3.2.1 'countdown' release. Check out the new release today by downloading the ISO image. If you have a 3.2.0beta1 you can just register and run the updates (upgrade from 2.5 or 3.0 is not supported). The registration procedure is much easier now: follow the initial wizard and just with an e-mail address you can keep the system updated. Here's a short list of the newly implemented features: 64-bit CPU support; new 4.1 kernel; Python updated to version 2.7; extended hardware support through updated drivers; extended 3G modem support; security fixes." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Parrot Security OS 3.1
Lorenzo Faletra has announced the release of Parrot Security OS 3.1, an updated version of the Debian-based distribution featuring a set of utilities for penetration testing, computer forensics, reverse engineering, hacking, privacy and cryptography. This new version, released barely six weeks after the 3.0 build, comes with the following changes: "many tools updates; switch from MySQL to MariaDB; include PHP 7 support; include stability improvements; update parrot-core, parrot-menu; update parrot tools selection to include new tools; fix systemd workarounds; fix icon theme; upgrade to Linux kernel 4.6; update support for GCC 4.8.5, 4.9.3, 5.4.0 and 6.1.1; update support for CLANG 3.6 and 3.8; update driver support; include QT-Creator 4.0.2; include Qt framework 5.6.1; fix apt-parrot mirror selection system; modify tasksel to include Parrot flavours; upgrade to zuluCrypt 5.0; upgrade to Anonsurf 2.1; include Tor Browser launcher; fix noscript plugin and Firefox launchers; Conky removed (waiting to fix the theme)."
Ronnie Whisler has announced the availability of LXLE 16.04.1, a new major release from the distribution project that builds a lightweight Ubuntu-based variant with LXDE as the default desktop. This is the distribution's first stable release based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS: "LXLE 16.04.1 'Eclectica' released. LXLE is built upon Ubuntu Mini LTS releases. Lubuntu core is used as a starting point. This version is based on 16.04.1. All software has been updated to their latest stable versions available for Ubuntu 16.04.1. Added PPAs ensure up-to-date applications of some of the most popular software, such as LibreOffice. Overall the applications have been streamlined and slimmed down, even with the inclusion of three small Assistive Technology programs, like a magnifier and onscreen keyboard. This version of LXLE was pretty difficult. A number of GNOME applications had to be replaced with their MATE twin applications to maintain a consistent user interface. Programs and solutions had to come from many different sources. A very eclectic OS, hence the name, Eclectica." See the complete release announcement for more information and screenshots.
LXLE 16.04.1 -- Running the LXDE desktop
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Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10
Alan Baghumian has announced the release of Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10. This new version is still based on Debian's current stable branch, but it comes the very latest GNOME 3.20 desktop, as well as a specially compiled Linux kernel 4.4. From the release announcement: "Hello everybody, we are pleased to announce that the final version of Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10, code name 'Erik', is available now. This version ships with GNOME 3.20.3, a new kernel based on Linux 4.4.16 and tons of updated and upgraded packages. Parsix 8.10 has been built on top of the rock-solid Debian 8.0 'Jessie' platform and all base packages have been synchronized with Debian 'Jessie' repositories as of July 30, 2016. Parsix 'Erik' ships with the LibreOffice 4.3.3 productivity suit by default. Highlights: GNOME Shell 3.20.3, GRUB 2, Firefox 47.0.1, GParted 0.19.0, Empathy 3.12.12, LibreOffice 4.3.3, VirtualBox 4.3.36 and a brand new kernel based on Linux 4.4.16 with TuxOnIce, BFS and other extra patches. The live DVD has been compressed using SquashFS and xz." See also the release notes for further details.
Simplicity Linux 16.07
The Simplicity Linux project is based on LXPup and antiX and ships with LXDE as the default desktop environment. The project has announced a new release, Simplicity Linux 16.07. The new version is available in three editions: Desktop, Mini and X. "We are pleased to announce the release of Simplicity Linux 16.07. As with recent versions of Simplicity, Mini and Desktop are based on the excellent LXPup and uses LXDE as the desktop environment. However, as an experiment, X is based on Debian via the fantastic antiX distro. It uses LXDE as the desktop environment like Mini and Desktop, but as far as features go, it is closer to Mini." This new experiment with Debian based packages may spread to the rest of the editions in the future: "As mentioned earlier, you can test our most experimental version of Simplicity Linux to date, X 16.07. This version is still in the very early stages of development. It is based on the excellent antiX, which in turn is Debian based. Whilst we still have a lot of love for Puppy Linux and all its derivatives, sometimes it's hard to make certain packages work, especially newer packages." The release announcement has further details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Status of gaming on Linux
Gaming on Linux has come a long way in the past few years. Increased support from Valve, cross-platform gaming libraries and improved driver support have made Linux a more appealing platform for gamers and game developers. However, Linux still lags behind in market share and tends not to receive ports of AAA games from large studios.
This week we would like to know how you view the gaming options on Linux. Do you like how things stand right now, do you think a bit more work needs to be done or are you disappointed with the available games on Linux?
You can see the results of our previous poll on our first distributions here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Status of gaming on Linux
|I am happy using Linux for all my gaming needs: ||269 (10%)|
| I use Linux for all my gaming but want more/better selection: ||589 (22%)|
| I do some gaming on Linux and some on other platforms: ||604 (22%)|
| I use other platforms for gaming: ||426 (16%)|
| I am not a gamer: ||839 (31%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- KODI-ICE Linux. KODI-ICE is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu MATE. The distribution ships with the Kodi media player, turning the computer into a media centre.
- ArchStrike. ArchStrike is an Arch Linux based distribution which features the Openbox window manager.
- medaid. medaid is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu GNOME 16.04. The operating system ships with scientific software, particularly biology-related programs.
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DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 8 August 2016. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 18.104.22.168, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
OpenLab GNU/Linux was an easy-to-use Slackware-based distribution featuring innovative and user-oriented design. Developed in South Africa since 2001, the product takes shape in the form of an installable live CD. It also includes OLAD (OpenLab ADministration tool) and many other innovations ranging from backend systems, such as the hyperdrive suite which simplifies the handling of removable media, to user-level enhancements, such as the highly integrated desktop theme complemented by the award-winning Nuvola icon set.